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NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations

Office of Coast Survey

Positioning America for the Future

NOAA Commissions High-Tech Coastal Mapping Ship

June 11, 2012
NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler

The NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler will play a vital role in ensuring safe navigation and commerce as we work to position America for the future.

On June 8, NOAA commissioned the Ferdinand R. Hassler, a state-of-the art coastal mapping vessel to detect and monitor changes to the sea floor. Data collected by the ship will be used to update nautical charts, detect potential hazards to navigation, and further enhance our understanding of the ever-changing marine environment.

Ferdinand R. Hassler will operate mainly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Caribbean Sea, and Great Lakes in support of the NOAA Office of Coast Survey’s mission. The vessel will measure water depths along U.S. coasts, acquiring the data necessary to produce navigational charts that help to position America for the next century of maritime economic growth. Hassler will also join the fleet of NOAA vessels that search for underwater dangers to navigation after hurricanes and other emergencies.

The 124-foot, twin-hull ship will conduct basic hydrographic surveys of the sea floor using side scan and multibeam sonar technologies. The ship is also equipped to deploy buoys and unmanned submersibles and conduct general oceanographic research. Ferdinand R. Hassler is a small waterplane area, twin-hull vessel — the first of its kind to be constructed for NOAA. The ship’s twin-hull design minimizes the rocking motion caused by wave action, making it particularly suited to mapping the ocean floor.

The ship was named by a team of tenth-grade students and a teacher from Naugatuck High School in Naugatuck, Conn., who won a regional NOAA contest to name the vessel. The ship's namesake, Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler (1770-1843), served as the founding superintendent of the Coast Survey, the precursor to today’s NOAA.


The NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler was commissioned in a special ceremony on June 8 in Norfolk, Va. The ship will be homeported in New Castle, N.H. Ferdinand R. Hassler is part of the NOAA fleet of ships and aircraft operated, managed, and maintained by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.